Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Review: THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER by Megan Shepherd

2.5 out of 5 hearts

Another hyped up read.  I was interested in the concept, especially since it is based on H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Monreau.  I am a fan of Wells, so how could I resist?  However, I looked over the reviews on Goodreads and it was rated mediocre, but I decided to give it a try anyways.

Juliet Monreau is the daughter of Dr. Monreau, but after a scandal, she was forced from her stature of riches into the poor streets of London.  Her mother died some time ago and Juliet is working at a local medical school.  She bumps into Montgomery unexpectedly one day, who was a child servant in her former home.  She thought that part of her past was lost but this encounter gives her hopes that perhaps her father was still alive.  After killing a man in self defense, she runs to Montgomery for help and escapes with him to the island ruled by her estranged father, Dr. Monreau.  Juliet seeks escape from her past and future on the island.  She is hoping to mend her relationship with her father and figure out her feelings for Montgomery.  However, as they are in route, they find a ship-wrecked man in the sea and rescue him.  Something about him is mysterious and on the brink of dangerous, but they bring him to the island with them.  

Life on the island is nothing like she expected.  Juliet's past, present, and future worlds clash as she fights her inner demons that she fears were inherited from her father.  She hoped to find a changed man in him but soon realizes that his seclusion and estrangement has only made him more maniacal.  To make matters worse, a grotesquely brutal beast is roaming through the island, murdering the passive and strange islanders and puts her life in imminent danger.  For some reason, she is never able to escape from danger, not in London, not on this island, not in herself. 

Sounds pretty interesting, right?  I thought so too.  And this just my interpretation of the summary.  The premise is very interesting and sounds like it would have you hooked.  But, one thing I learned from reading this is that the details matter, a lot, and a great synopsis isn't going to make up the story.  Shephard had a great idea.  Bear with me for I may start to sound overly critical and pretentious; it is not my intention whatsoever.  This story is written in first person but reads as third person.  From the books that I love, a first person character makes an emotional connection with the reader, forms a relationship, a bond, intrigues the reader, latches on to him.  But this book didn't do that.  Action points were hit, but that was it.  Even the love triangle that arises is very halfhearted.  Shephard described certain feelings and desires but they didn't make sense in connection to Juliet.  Now that I think about it, Juliet's character didn't make sense at all.  She was very contradictory, which is the real reason I couldn't grasp this book.  It's kind of like watching a bad movie and yelling at the screen.  

Originally, I was set on giving it a 3 out of 5, for originality.  I write my reviews right after I finish reading a book, but I was very busy and had to wait two weeks before I was able to post the review for this book.  As I was working on it, I found it extremely difficult to remember the story.  I remembered the gist of it, but I couldn't even remember the protagonist's name.  So, I decided that a 2.5 would be more suitable.  It didn't leave a lasting impression.  I blame that on Juliet.  

However, I will say that I think this would make a great graphic novel, since those are based on illustrations rather than prose.  I hope she takes me up on that because I'd love it then, I'm positive. 


Hardcover, 420 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Balzer + Bray
ISBN 0062128027 (ISBN13: 9780062128027)
Edition language:  English

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